White Stuff’s millionaire founder was hired to demolish a building, skateboard, and tennis court that were being built on a beauty spot without permission.
The wealthy Sean Thomas built a two-story double garage and tennis court on farmland behind his home at Gerston Point in South Hams, Devon.
The site is in the South Devon Region of Outstanding Natural Beauty and located adjacent to the Salcombe-Kingsbridge Estuary of Special Scientific Interest.
In September last year, after a complaint from a resident to the council, the planners initially rejected a retroactive application for a change in land use.
Earlier this year, he made a new proposal that planted more than 1,000 native trees to ensure a “significant net gain in biodiversity”.
But this has now also been rejected by the South Hams County Council, which called it “undesirable and inappropriate intrusion into an undeveloped rural area”.
And the council said it is now taking enforcement action to ensure the site is returned to its original state.
Explaining the reasons for the rejection, a planning officer wrote: “The development is viewed as an inappropriate development in a highly sensitive area of open countryside that is in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in South Devon.
“The development is adversely affecting the surrounding landscape and has introduced an inappropriately built form in this highly sensitive rural and estuary location.”
The report added that it “had an adverse impact on the natural beauty, distinctive features, distinctive character, landscape and scenic beauty of the South Devon AONB”.
The second request was recognized as a “major improvement” in terms of landscaping, but “did not outweigh the damage”.
It added: “The motion does not show any exceptional circumstances that would allow the clear and strong political conflicts to be suspended and should be rejected again.”
Mr. Thomas now has up to six months to file an appeal.
The decision follows a long period of suspense during which the South Hams Society accused the council of “pulling its heels” for failing to enforce it.
The council replied to the allegations, saying it spoke to Mr Thomas “to try to resolve the problem”.
The skate park, tennis court and garage were categorized as an “eyesore” in a “unique and iconic landscape” in an appeal filed by the West Alvington Parish Council.
The house at Gerston Point was built following a controversial planning application in 2011 on the site of a bungalow formerly owned by environmentalist Tony Soper, co-founder of the BBC’s famous natural history division.
This development was finally approved in 2012 after the original plans were scaled back a bit.
Mr. Thomas and his wife later acquired an adjacent strip of agricultural land to build the tennis court, skate park and garage, which were completed in 2016.
After the initial rejection decision, Mr. Thomas said: “This is a complex process that I am working on with the help of a consultant.
“Rest assured, however, that I and my family appreciate the specialty of Gerston Point and feel privileged to have lived there for the past seven years or more.”